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Old 26.06.2015, 10:56
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Do women belong in Science?

Sorry, click bait title---


but referring to Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize winning biologist who has lost professorship at UCL and scientific position in the European Research council due to social media bloggers taking a small joke of out of context.

Has tweeting and the such gone out of control? It's scary that random individuals can have such a profound impact based solely on how many followers they have.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:01
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

He is an idiot for making the comment, but that is the price you pay for a modern society that places equal emphasis on public opinion as they do for educated opinion.

Joke or not, he's paid the price and will go down as a guy who contributed so much but will be remembered only for a 2 minute comment.

And no, I don't believe that organisations should kowtow to such public pressure/opinion, in what are basically not life-or-death situations. But it isn't the first time that twit-storms (pun intended) have led to such situations, but it is the first time that it has happened in academia AFAIK.

Welcome to the new world order. Big Brother hasn't got a patch on this...

Watch it all if you want, but cut to 1 min & "everyone's opinion is equal... my arse"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHVVKAKWXcg
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:03
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

People just need to have more balls and stick with their convictions rather than allowing themselves to be hounded out of jobs by an invisible online mob.

In this case it wasn't even his opinion and was quite clearly a joke, which makes it even worse.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:04
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

Maybe the comment was taken out of context, but in this modern age it is one that should never have been made.

As a female scientist I found it offensive and was happy that he was made to face the consequences of his actions 😁

Surely we are trying to encourage more females into the Science workplace and stupid comments like this really don't help!
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:09
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

Personally I think it's made the UCL look pretty pathetic.

Tim Hunt's standing among those that actually matter is that he's still held in the same high regard.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:10
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

here's the actual quote:

Quote:
Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls? Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me

I feel that the 'now seriously' part adequately covers the theme that the first part is a joke and ridiculous in nature. In terms of a verbal presentation, I also feel the controversial nature is important to keep the speech interesting, enjoyable and fun. (Too many brilliant people have terribly boring public speaking abilities even on interesting topics)

Finally the last part shows his encouragement to gender irrelevant research--even poking a bit of fun at himself!
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:11
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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As a female scientist I found it offensive and was happy that he was made to face the consequences of his actions
So, let's review his actions: these were to make an off-joke (we all agree he shouldn't have) and years of contribution to science and contribution to society, and you put more weight on the former?

His punishment: loses his job, has to give up various positions where he contributes more to society that probably all the "twits" combined, I believe his wife was also put in an untenable situation and left as well. Does that seem reasonable to you?

At the risk of attracting much ire, is this the much vaunted rational thinking of a female scientist?!
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:18
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

Of course women belong in science, especially as we are no longer allowed to test make up on monkeys.

Although I would suggest that the cages be a little bigger.

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Old 26.06.2015, 11:22
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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Maybe the comment was taken out of context, but in this modern age it is one that should never have been made.

As a female scientist I found it offensive and was happy that he was made to face the consequences of his actions 😁

Surely we are trying to encourage more females into the Science workplace and stupid comments like this really don't help!
Whether he was joking or not, isn't he entitled to his own opinions? What ever happened to free speech? Are we moving to a closed state as in North Korea, where we can only repeat the party line?
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:24
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

The "now seriously " line seems to be a subject for debate too now with some saying he did say it and others saying he did not .

If he was trying to make comments about the excellent contribution made by the female scientists in Korea, he should have let that comment speak for itself, not temper it with the crass comments made before .

Turn it the other way and how would he have taken it if his work and value had been questioned by those very female scientists?
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:25
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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Of course women belong in science, especially as we are no longer allowed to test make up on monkeys.

Although I would suggest that the cages be a little bigger.


Comments like this are extremely offensive. The proper term is 'enclosure', using the word 'cage' is terribly insensitive.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:28
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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Maybe the comment was taken out of context, but in this modern age it is one that should never have been made.

As a female scientist I found it offensive and was happy that he was made to face the consequences of his actions ��

Surely we are trying to encourage more females into the Science workplace and stupid comments like this really don't help!
I completely disagree - if comments can be reported out of context and then held up as fact there is something very wrong.

There is also something very wrong when one comment can destroy a career; if you get groaned at on EF should it be reported to your employer? Clearly you would be incapable of doing your job and should be sacked immediately.

There are plenty of genuinely sexist people out there, a twitter mob hounding somebody (who doesn't on any real evidence appear to be sexist) out of a job isn't exactly helping the cause.

And actually his (admittedly poor) attempt at mocking the real sexists caused a debate and many brilliantly funny responses, probably helping a great deal.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:28
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

This just shows that just because people are geniuses in one field, it does not mean that they are a genius in everything they do. One sad example that comes to mind is William Shockley, a man who was much respected for his role in the invention of the transistor and hence as an early enabler of the modern technology revolution. Maybe less well know but even more gargantuan are his contributions to other aspects of solid state physics. One man's keen intellect helped catapult an entire branch of science forward by decades. But the same man tragically shot himself in the foot when he began imagining himself to be a universal oracle and started making off-the-cuf and borderline racist comments about euthanasia.

These few unqualified statements which form but an infinitessimal fraction of his overall thinking and contribution have sadly soured and clouded the memory that present and future generations will hold of this great man.

Similarly, Einstein often gets quoted on his somewhat naive statements on philosophy, with people who don't have much intellectual depth thinking it somehow vindiactes their poistion when Einstain is apparently backing them up.

Lesson: something you pronounce off-the-cuff on a topic that isn't yours does not have the same value as something you say after years if not decades of tough research in youir core area of expertese.

We laugh about footballers and other sports people saying stupid things about society and politics. Scientists are no different really. Being smart in one field does not make you universally smart. Maybe we need to lower our expectations and not get so upset when the edifice crumbles and a supposed genius turns out to be a common fool.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:29
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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So, let's review his actions: these were to make an off-joke (we all agree he shouldn't have)...
I disagree. Because the context, as Chemmie points out puts an entirely different slant on things.

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...I feel that the 'now seriously' part adequately covers the theme that the first part is a joke and ridiculous in nature. In terms of a verbal presentation, I also feel the controversial nature is important to keep the speech interesting, enjoyable and fun. (Too many brilliant people have terribly boring public speaking abilities even on interesting topics)

Finally the last part shows his encouragement to gender irrelevant research--even poking a bit of fun at himself!
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:33
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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Maybe the comment was taken out of context, but in this modern age it is one that should never have been made.

As a female scientist I found it offensive and was happy that he was made to face the consequences of his actions 😁

Surely we are trying to encourage more females into the Science workplace and stupid comments like this really don't help!
In answer to the OP - Yes, of course women belong in science. Why wouldn't they be?

In answer to the above quote - I struggle to see why any educated person would be offended by what Tim Hunt said, if you take into account his whole passage of conversation.

This whole issue is simply too many softie, liberal individuals (bullies), hell bent on pretending to take the moral high ground in the name of protecting cotton wool wrapped individuals from anyone else's views and opinions, by conveniently selecting words and phrases out of context of the whole conversation.

Being a scientist, you should be well aware that any data can be twisted and manipulated to show any kind of output, response, result depending on who requests the data, who processes it all, who the audience is and what reaction you want to create. Of course, focusing in on one sentence might seem rude, insensitive, inflammatory, but zoom out a little and you can see the whole picture.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:33
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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...Surely we are trying to encourage more females into the Science workplace and stupid comments like this really don't help!
But vilify a man who actually did nothing wrong is as likely to put off men going into Science. Regardless of sex, there are not enough able people going into science. Or even ones capable of understanding wry self-deprecating humour.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:36
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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The "now seriously " line seems to be a subject for debate too now with some saying he did say it and others saying he did not.
Debated by who? Do you have any links - thus far I've only been able to find the Times article on the EU report, which is unequivocal.

Nobody at the meeting has contradicted it, and the original reporters have said nothing - probably because they're in danger of a libel case if they repeat their false story.

Edit - actually just found this and it appear he was being a total arse, and the comments weren't significantly taken out of context.

That in itself not a sacking offense - but the failure to just apologise properly and be done with it was.

Last edited by newtoswitz; 26.06.2015 at 11:54.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:48
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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Maybe the comment was taken out of context, but in this modern age it is one that should never have been made.

As a female scientist I found it offensive and was happy that he was made to face the consequences of his actions 😁

Surely we are trying to encourage more females into the Science workplace and stupid comments like this really don't help!
So what you're actually saying is that you're pleased that somebody has lost their career and standing just because he had a little joke that you didn't like that much.

Hmmm.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:48
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

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I completely disagree - if comments can be reported out of context and then held up as fact there is something very wrong.
But sadly it happens. I had to do a very brief session on media training many years ago and one of the suggestions was, always think about where your comment could be cut off for a soundbite.

Example:

Q: What is your view on universal suffrage?
A: I think it's terrible that it took so long for X to get the vote, but believe that certain groups should be excluded, like prisoners and those lacking mental capacity.

Soundbite could be:

Q: What is your view on universal suffrage?
A: I think it's terrible

But because A goes on to say that certain groups should be excluded... it's not technically libel. Just extremely out of context.
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Old 26.06.2015, 11:49
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Re: Do women belong in Science?

There is no fool like an old fool



However I think UCL were wrong react as swiftly as they did, ignoring any semblance of fairness or due process. It seems like UCL and other institutions are paranoid about their online image and increasingly beholden to social media. Its perhaps not surprising considering how much money top British Unis make from foreign students, private research grants etc..

However they should have but principles first by placing him on garden leave and then organising a fair hearing where he would have a chance to put his case forward, present character witnesses etc.. Instead they chose to instantly satisfy the Twitter monster and hang the fellow out to dry.

I wouldn't want to work in a sexist institution, but neither would I want to work for a cowardly one.
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